A charity which aims to financially support families whose children are suffering with cancer has expanded into Ceredigion.
The BeMoreFrank charity was set up in 2021 by Emma Cleal, the mother of the ‘amazing’ Frank Cleale, who battled against cancer for two and a half years before he passed away in 2021 aged 12.
Frank spent a lot of time in Ceredigion, where his grandparents live.
Mrs Cleal said: “Frank was simply amazing, cracking jokes until he was no longer able to communicate. We try to take a little of this forward in his honour, we all try to seize the day, be braver, be kinder - Be More Frank.
“We started BeMoreFrank shortly after he died. It was a very primal thing, we knew that we wanted to do something with his positive energy, to help people in the same position.
The charity first launched in Hereford, where Frank and his family lived, since then it has expanded in Powys, Monmouthshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. Expanding into Ceredigion meant something personal to the family. They would spend a lot of time in Ceredigion visiting Frank’s grandparents, who live in the area.
She said: “My parents live in Ceredigion, Frank grew up spending a lot of time at Ynyslas and that part of Ceredigion, it felt right to bring the charity to Ceredigion.
“One of our primary concerns is helping people in more rural areas like Ceredigion, between journeys to and from hospital, overnight accommodation to stay near your child. We were in Birmingham Children’s Hospital, and it was a couple of hours in the car and half a tank of petrol a day and accommodation for my husband for him to be anywhere near us.
“It can cost a lot of money, and that’s aside from how much you’re bringing in. I stopped work when he was diagnosed. As a family you’ll go bankrupt and homeless to sleep next to your children. We’ve had feedback from families who’ve said sometimes it’s a choice between paying the electric or getting the weekly shop. We want the money to be available for families to spend on what they feel they need.”
The charity’s expansion into Ceredigion officially took place on Thursday 14 September, but they have pledged to back pay all families who have been eligible since April 2023.
The charity offers financial support for families which they can use to spend however they need to. Emma Cleal wanted to make the funds as open and easy to get as possible, she said: “It was really important to us that people could access this fund as easily as possible. I remember when Frank was going through treatment, if someone said to me ‘just fill out this form’ - it didn’t matter if it was £5 or £1,000, I wouldn’t have done it. Your brain is just not there.
“What we do is we set up an infrastructure with each county’s Child's Community Nurse. As soon as they receive a new patient, they encourage them and their family to take the funds. The process is as simple as being asked if you’d like it. If so, the money will arrive in your account within three or four days.”
“Children going through treatment are often bought toys and blankets. Frank was a bit older and that wasn’t really valuable for him. We decided then that money’s what helps people, they can spend it on what they want and what’s most meaningful to their child.”